Music review: Violin Variations
Music review: Violin Variations

Edinburgh Festival Fringe music review: Violin Variations, reviewed by The Scotsman’s David Kettle. ★★★ Tucked away in a small venue in Hill Square, Cumnock-born violinist Ian Peaston is quietly providing one of the cleverest musical shows on the Fringe. Clever in his use of advanced, real-time technology to transform sounds from his violin into drums, …

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Edinburgh Festival

Edinburgh Festival Fringe music review: Violin Variations, reviewed by The Scotsman’s David Kettle.

★★★

Tucked away in a small venue in Hill Square, Cumnock-born violinist Ian Peaston is quietly providing one of the cleverest musical shows on the Fringe. Clever in his use of advanced, real-time technology to transform sounds from his violin into drums, basslines and washes of electronic atmospherics. And clever, too, in his melding together of pop and classical so that both sound right in their new contexts.

Using only his electric violin and a laptop – plus a carpet of foot pedals and a mysterious glowing Audiocube – he transforms Björk into Bach, Arvo Pärt into Massive Attack, layering loops and samples and adjusting his mix in real time.

It could be a bit of a dry exercise, but Peaston is a seriously good violinist too, producing crystal-clear harmonics for Pärt’s Fratres and a convincingly rich string orchestra texture for Swedish composer Stefan Klaverdal’s new variations on age-old tune La folia, written specially for him. And he’s nicely slidey in an evocative, oriental-sounding tune from Hans Zimmer’s soundtrack to Black Hawk Down (the bassline of which makes the seats vibrate).

Peaston puts some effort into explaining his methods, but there’s as much to be appreciated in how it works as in the end result. It feels like quite a short, slight show, and his chat with the audience, although charmingly sincere, could probably do with a bit more scripting. But for some good music and how-did-he-do-that effects, it’s a great success.

theSpace @ Symposium Hall (Venue 43) until 29 August

Published in The Scotsman on 24 August 2015

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